SOUND AND VISION:
She opened a contemporary art gallery at a Yorkshire stately home and has staged exhibitions in an empty Leeds apartment block. Now Diane Howse tells Richard Jevons why she is taking on two more landmark venues.
T’S more than a quarter of a century since Diane Howse opened her first gallery at Harewood House. Back then, most country piles were still rather fusty affairs with the public tolerated for the entrance fees they brought rather than welcomed with opened arms. Diane saw it differently.
Having married David Lascelles, who became Lord Harewood in 2011 following the death of his father, the couple have worked hard to open up the historic estate near Leeds and with a lifelong passion for art, Diane saw it as the perfect backdrop for showcasing contemporary work.
Since then, she has staged and curated hundreds of exhibitions in unusual locations, including a disused Yorkshire apartment block and is now taking work to two of the county’s most iconic venues – Salts Mill in Saltaire and the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth.
“I think we sometimes forget how beautiful Brontë country is,” says Diane on a warm summer’s day, looking across from Penistone Hill. “The world may be very different today from the time of the Brontës, but that beauty and the power they felt on the moors is still very much here.”
That was part of the reason why she wanted to stage an exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum. Bringing together a group of fellow creative spirits, the Silent Wild explores the sonic landscape conjured by the words of the Brontë sisters.
“We don’t tend to think of language as something visual but in fact we look at words as much as we hear or speak them,” says Diane – she rarely uses her title as the Countess of Harewood. “However, when we look at text on a page or screen, while we might read silently the words on the page have an extraordinary power to conjure a whole world of sound, noise and commotion.”
The main focus of the project is a new 11-minute film that plays on an iPad in the dining room of the parsonage. For the film, an exact replica of the dining room’s floor plan was reconstructed in the roof space
ART OF NOISE: Main picture, Countess of Harewood Diane Howse at Harewood House; above, Silent Wild is a new art exhibition at the Brontë Parsonage Museum.